Nearly 4,000 Volunteers Celebrate Five Years of Caring

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2017-10-13

Volunteers celebrate as United Way collects school supplies for its Stuff the Bus campaign, one of dozens of projects that took place during United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring in September. Photo courtesy United Way.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) -  Since United Way California Capital Region held its inaugural 2013 Day of Caring, 3,692 volunteers have spent one day caring for their community over the last five years. Volunteers donated 18,054 hours of service, valued at $366,572, for 182 projects with nonprofits, parks and schools across the region, including on United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring that took place Sept. 22-23. 

“In just five years, Day of Caring has become the single largest volunteer day in our region,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Thousands of volunteers have dug their hands in to help hardworking nonprofits, parks and schools that do so much for our community every day.”

Hundreds of volunteers donated time for United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring at dozens of volunteer projects, including building garden beds at schools, painting nonprofit program facilities and cleaning up parks. The event began with a kickoff breakfast and rally at Cal Expo that included an appearance by Mayor Darrell Steinberg. As part of this year’s Day of Caring, United Way held its inaugural Stuff the Bus campaign, which raised more than $11,000 in school supplies for Robla School District in Sacramento. 

Nationwide has been the presenting sponsor for Day of Caring since it began in 2013. Project sponsors for 2017 included Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, ESM Prep, KPMG, Law Offices of Deon R. Stein, Nelson Staffing, SAFE Credit Union, SMUD, Social Interest Solutions, Sutter Health, Syzmanowski Orthodontics, TaxAudit.com and Zurich. Media partners included Entercom Radio’s ESPN Radio 1320 AM, 98 Rock, Eagle 96.9 FM and 106.5 The End. 

Day of Caring is part of United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer: www.yourlocalunitedway.org

Guiding Veterans in Tough Times

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-19

Aging With Dignity is hosted by Ed Outland, live, Saturday on KTKZ (1380 am) from 1 to 2 p.m. and also on KSAC (105.5 fm). Photo courtesy Ed Outland.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Ed Outland is not a veteran.  As a young man, however, he planned to serve his country, as did his father, a career serviceman.  But those hopes were dashed when he developed an illness that disqualified him for enlistment.

“I was drafted in 1969 and I wanted to be a pilot,” says Outland, founder and CEO of Family Heritage Group, LLC in Fair Oaks.  “I found out I had a form of spina bifida and that was it. I didn’t get to go.”

Flash forward several decades (and careers) later and Outland, 71, heads up a company offering financial estate planning and related services for individuals and their family members.  He’s found a circuitous but important way to serve his country by providing pro-bono financial services to aging, sick and injured veterans to ensure they receive, at minimum, access to a little known government entitlement benefit that a vast majority of his clients don’t even know they qualify for.

Sure, Outland has to keep the lights on, so his core company, which currently carries a portfolio of roughly $11 million, centers on financial and estate planning services for the elderly, helping them navigate the wildly complicated qualification process for Medi-Cal benefits, the state’s Medicade program for low-income individuals, and guiding clients on the purchase of life insurance, annuities and other investment and retirement vehicles.

But Heritage Group has a niche market serving veterans with critical medical issues, ensuring they and or their spouses receive assistance through the Aid & Attendance program (A&A) offered through the US Dept. Of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).  The benefit, which can be combined with social security and Medi-Cal, can be used to pay for non-service related medical expenses, including long-term care fees and other expenses due to a catastrophic illness.

Outland does not charge for helping veterans get this benefit.  For those veterans who may have assets exceeding qualifying levels, Outland works with them to redirect their assets in order to meet the requirements.

“Roughly 96 percent of the financial services and catastrophic illness planning we do with veterans is pro-bono work,” says Outland.  “We help them or, if need be, the spouse, apply for the A&A benefit so they can deal with medical expenses with dignity and not have to go broke doing it.”

There are fewer and fewer financial advisors willing to dive into the tangled web of entitlement benefits, according to Outland, who has been working with veterans for about 11 years.  Over that period, he’s established good relationships with the skilled nursing facility community, working with staff and ensuring residents are signed up for and receiving the full range of government entitlements needed to pay for their care and board.

 “This work is not for the weak willed or faint of heart,” says Outland.  “Believe me, the VA doesn’t like us very much.”

To qualify, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with one day during a time of war and a clean discharge from service between Dec. 7, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946 for WWII; June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 for the Korean Conflict, and between Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for the Vietnam War.  Veterans with at least two years of active duty service during the Persian Gulf War from Sept. 2, 1990 up to present day, also qualify.

While most of his VA pro-bono clients do not have much money saved, Outland works to help all who apply for the A&A benefit to qualify.  The VA stipulates applicants can have only a maximum $30,000 in assets if single, $50,000 if married.

But for most, the A&A benefit represents the last option for financial aid to cover medical care costs.  Few have wealth management portfolios to break apart and redirect.

“Many of our veterans come in the door with $50 in their savings accounts,” says Outland.  “Getting these benefits is life-changing for them.”

Part of Outland’s work with others also involves dispelling myths, the biggest one being that if you have money you can’t qualify for Medi-Cal.  And that myth is widely prevalent among a good majority of WWII veterans and their family members who are struggling to balance paying for medical care without depleting their assets and robbing their children of an inheritance.

“The greatest generation of veterans is dying off,” says Outland.  “So our job is to make sure that the $10 trillion that roughly comprises their total wealth is passed on to their families and not sucked up by the ever-increasing costs of long-term medical care and expenses.”’

Outland said of the roughly 16 million veterans who served in WWII there are roughly 750,000 still living.  He estimates there also are roughly 2.5 million WWII widows still living who are entitled to the benefit and can apply for it.  They just need to know it’s there.

“That’s a lot of veterans and widows out there and most of them don’t have a clue the benefit is there for them,” Outland says.

Receiving the Aid & Assistance benefit has made it possible for veterans from all backgrounds to fill the gap between Medi-Cal coverage, Social Security and pension payments and costs of long-term care, among other things, which amounts to an average of close to $7,000 a month in many places.  As of January 2015, a veteran and spouse could qualify for as much as $2,126 a month through the program.  The A&A benefit for single veterans is currently set at $1,794 a month, and for surviving spouses the benefit is $1,156 a month. 

“It truly can mean that someone can age with dignity in a good facility and pay for it without having to lose everything they’ve spent their lives saving up,” Outland said.

Outland also has an hour-long, weekend radio program offering listeners financial and estate planning guidance, He’s successfully parlaying a long, first career in radio advertising sales and station management into a passion helping people manage their money, preserve their family’s wealth and plan for the future.

“I’m self-taught,” said Outland.  “I got tired of doing radio sales day in and day out.  I have been doing this for 28 years now and I guess you could say it really is a second career.”

Outland said when he “discovered” the Aid & Assistance benefit was available there were reportedly roughly 400 recipients in the Sacramento County region signed up for and receiving it.  As of January of this year, he estimated his firm had successfully completed roughly 6,000 A&A cases for veterans. 

“It was like the sky opened up,” Outland said.  “We’ve got to get the word out there that these benefits are available.”


www.fhgllc.com

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A True Hero and Survivor

By Elise Spleiss     |  2017-11-19

Okinawa survivor Bob Mellor proudly displays his Navy photo, his Navy uniform and the American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign and World War II medals he earned during his service in the Battle of Okinawa. Photo by Elise Spleiss

Battle of Okinawa Survivor Part of Final Battle of World War II

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - At the age of 20, Bob (Junior) Mellor, had no way of knowing he was soon to be part of what would be known as ‘history’s greatest conflict on land and sea’, the Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg. Many who unknowingly become a part of history in the making often just see it as part of the job. It is no different for Bob Mellor, now 92.

His patriotic T-shirts and original Navy uniforms hanging in his closet, the glass case full of photos and other service memorabilia are silent reminders of his service while his extensive collection of World War II and other combat movies bring those days back to life for him. And Bob loves to proudly talk about those days to any fortunate enough to hear his stories.

Bob joined the U.S. Navy on October 6, 1944 in San Francisco. He took a train to San Diego Naval Training Center where he completed his basic training as a Seaman Apprentice Class on December 28, 1944. The same day he was transferred to Landing Craft School where he graduated three months later on March 6, 1945.

During his training Bob took a leave to visit his older brother, Ray Mellor whose ship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Fanshaw Bay, had come in for repairs following a Japanese attack that had burned the flight deck. While on board Ray, a Gunner’s Mate on the ship, showed his brother the 5-inch anti-aircraft guns where he worked. Ray survived the war, thanks to the metal case covering his Bible when he took shrapnel to the chest during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

Upon completion of Landing Craft School Bob Mellor was transferred to the West Pacific where he was trained to drive a 30-foot Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) boat. He was immediately made a cockswain, in charge of the ship and its crew, and trained in the Pacific Ocean in 15 to 20-foot breakers. Mellor said he liked the training and “found it no harder than plowing a straight furrow” back home on his family’s 156-acre ranch in Delhi, California.

During his three-month training in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa, Mellor brought in supplies, hauled liberty parties and took sailor transfers to other ships on the high seas. He participated in a week-long shake-down cruise and amphibious landing off Catalina Island before boarding a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) headed for Pearl Harbor where he trained in all the sea channels driving a landing craft.

On March 17, 1945 Mellor was assigned to LSM 424 (Landing Ship, Medium) and was sent to the south islands in the Pacific where he joined a larger fleet of landing craft and mine sweepers. At 203 feet-long, his ship resembled a small aircraft carrier and carried over 100 guns, mortars and rockets of various sizes.  Mellor’s ship was part of the fleet that by the end of March would number 1,300 headed to the invasion of Okinawa. Only 325 miles from Japan, Okinawa was the last stronghold to defeat before reaching Japan.

Finally, on April 1, 1945 the U.S. and allied forces invaded Okinawa. Mellor and his men landed in Buckner Bay. By the end of the day, it had become the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II with 50,000 troops landing.

One of the pilots flying from the carrier U.S.S. San Jacinto was a young pilot by the name of George H.W. Bush. Bush and other pilots conducted bombing raids in their TBM Avengers to clear the way for Mellor and other landing crafts to land safely on Okinawa. However, attempting to prevent U.S. and Allied landings was the Imperial Japanese ‘super-battleship” Yamato, along with its fleet of Japanese aircraft carriers and destroyers. 

Mellor recalls that just after his ship had unloaded its pontoons and hardware for the floating docks, they were attacked briefly in a kamikaze attack by a Japanese Zero fighter plane. He and his men survived that attack and with the equipment provided, three U.S. Army and three U.S. Marine Corps divisions aided in the successful completion of the assault on Okinawa.

On April 7, 1945 the Yamato, the largest battleship in the world at 80,000-tons was sunk by the Avengers after 10 torpedo hits. The Yamato had been the former flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The war ended on June 22, 1945 but Mellor had one more assignment to complete. On June 26, Mellor took his LSM 424 to the north end of Okinawa and picked up U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Hedo, and transported them to the North China Sea where they boarded 40 ships to go home. 

More than 12,000 American servicemen were killed at Okinawa and over 38,000 wounded or missing. Japan lost 100,000 men, plus a loss of up to 150,000 civilian Okinawans.

Mellor continued his life following his Navy days with his high school sweetheart, Elma Louise Voyles. They married in 1946, following his discharge from the Navy and her graduation with honors from Livingston High School in Livingston, California. Their first home was a chicken house in the backyard of Clint Lovelady’s Ranch in Delhi, California. They converted the chicken house into their home of one year, then moved to a farm in Delhi where Bob work full-time plowing fields and milking the cows. Their toilet was an outhouse.

In 1950 Mellor took a job at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento where he worked for 34 years before retiring as a “Scheduler’ for airplane repairs.

The Mellor’s had four children, three adopted over a span of fifteen years. After two children, they upsized from their home in North Highlands to 5-acres in Fair Oaks. After 54 years of marriage, Elma passed away in 2000.

Mellor now lives with his daughter, Lynne at her home in Roseville. He spends much of his time watching his extensive collection of WWII movies and other classics dating back to the 1930’s.               

He enjoys his pastime, especially as, referring to his waning memory, each time he watches a favorite movie like Midway or Flying Tigers, it’s like watching it for the first time.

As the number of our surviving World War II veterans are rapidly dwindling, our younger generations are either never studied or are forgetting their sacrifices. Stories like these are a memorial to the thousands of people who worked, fought and died to preserve our way of life today. They cannot be forgotten.

Sources: Mellor Family History by Dr. Dennis L. Mellor

The Collings Foundation; World War II Day by Day by Antony Shaw

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Jennifer Wood Chosen Environmentalist of the Year

By Lori Morales, CCL  |  2017-11-08

Jennifer Wood. Photo courtesy CCL

Award goes to Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby Volunteer

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Jennifer Wood received the Environmentalist of the Year Award from the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) November 8th. Jennifer is a volunteer with the Sacramento Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), and she was honored along with other champions of the environment at the annual awards ceremony.

Jennifer Wood founded the Sacramento Chapter of CCL in January of 2013 because of CCL’s emphasis on citizen engagement and its focus on bipartisan national policy. She began as the volunteer Group Leader for the Sacramento Chapter and is now a volunteer Chapter Coordinator, focusing on groups in the Central Valley and Sierras. Jennifer stated: “CCL has an approach that can bridge the political divide and bring many voices into the conversation. We advocate for national climate policy that is equitable, effective, and efficient.”

CCL, which has 84,000 members globally and chapters that cover every Congressional District in the U.S., trains volunteers in the skills of citizen engagement and helps members exercise their political voice. The Sacramento CCL chapter has grown to over 800 members and has developed relationships with Representatives Doris Matsui and Ami Bera, demonstrating community support for common-sense national climate policy. 

Members meet with local elected officials and community leaders and educate the public about national climate solutions. Last June, seven chapter members traveled to Washington, D.C. for CCL’s annual conference, and joined 1,000 volunteers as they lobbied every member of Congress about the need for national climate action.  “It was a life changing experience to participate in grassroots organizing.” said Edith Thacher, Sacramento chapter co-lead, “Imagine hundreds of volunteers walking the halls of Congress, meeting with each representative or their staff, expressing a unified message, and respectfully discussing the congressperson’s perspective on climate action.”

Commenting on the award, Jennifer said, “This award belongs to my Chapter’s members as much as it does to me. There is no CCL without the volunteers and there is no political will for change unless citizens speak out and become active”.

For more information see the CCL Sacramento Chapter website: https://www.sacramentoccl.org/   

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Fat Chance, Fast Change

By Rick Reed  |  2017-11-08

Jason Ra Bromleyy, before his “Fast Change” with Robinson’s TKD. Photo courtesy Rick Reed

Motivation for Men this Holiday Season

Like the Titanic’s meeting the iceberg, our holiday excess with gravy is disaster, dead ahead! For men sitting all day at work then watching sports season after season on the couch, the nachos are not our friends.  The holiday meals ahead are like that proverbial iceberg in our diet. How did thirty-five year old Jason Ray Broumley get so cut and recapture his younger self? He says it was three things, two of them will power and Taekwondo.

Not TNT, but Taekwondo blew inches off his waist, as Jason describes his once sorry state, “Way too heavy, walking around it was awful my back was aching, short of breath, it actually felt like I was never going to be able to do anything physical, you know, ever again.”

That kind of mental stress can make it worse for many men as they end up eating from the guilt felt in being too heavy and unhealthy. A vicious cycle sped up as hearty fat loaded meals are the centerpiece on the holiday calendar. WebMD reports obesity as 20% over your normal weight for your height. They also tie heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and many other potentially life-threatening ailments to being overweight. 

How did Jason break the cycle? He says determination was his key, “I definitely wanted something different, I wanted to change my life.” And with time, training and support it has. “I feel healthier now than I ever have in my life because of Taekwondo” he said.  From 260 to 180 with four inches less to carry around the middle, Jason says TKD has been an inspiration to also improve his diet.  “I make better food choices, and haven’t eaten fast food in years, so training is more than just a workout. It’s incentive to live better.”

Jason says he tried gym work, but found it mind-numbing and uncomfortable, “Kind of monotonous, same old thing every time, boring!”  His choice to become healthier with TKD was influenced by his father studying martial arts at a time he wasn’t interested. Another factor was making time to get his health in order, The Black Belt says, “I wanted something challenging. I was going to be learning a skill. It’s something different every time I go. I’m learning something new every time so I think that’s why I chose Taekwondo.” Whatever form of exercise, getting off that couch, up from that seat and away from the screen are the first steps for men losing and controlling weight.

Rust may be good patina on old pickup trucks, but bad for men who ‘rust’ when they rest too much, and modern society keeps us sitting more often. A bridal services business owner often working at his computer, Jason Broumley found Robinson’s Taekwondo as his choice for healthy fitness, and founder Grandmaster Clint Robinson an inspiration. Movement is the key, flexibility the door to better days as body, mind and spirit are welded in the desire to lose weight and be healthy. According to the slimmed down Ray, “A better state of mind, physically sure, and spiritually too I think. Taekwondo has done that for me, for sure.”

Making the decision to get healthy is critical, but Jason says, just showing up to train is half the battle.  “I didn’t think I was going to come back. After class I was down on the mat thinking I might not get up! But, I just kept going back.”  That determination proved to be self-fulfilling as weight loss, muscle and a better state of mind gives life new vigor. Jason’s wife Bundi says, “His stress level has gone way down. He’s more relaxed.” And yes, men being relaxed and healthy is sexy. “Yes,” Jason testified, “I would definitely say it is.” That’s the third thing!

So, enjoy the holidays, eat in moderation then get up, get busy with movement and take a fat chance on a fast change! Gain more from life like Jason, whatever exercise works for you. If you would like to try Taekwondo drop by a Robinson’s TKD location for three free lessons, compliments of Jason and Messenger Publishing Group.

For more information visit www.robinsonstkd.com

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Cannabis Sellers Must Register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration

By Paul Cambra, CDTFA  |  2017-11-08

You gotta register man! Stock photo

Sacramento, CA (MPG) -  Individuals planning to sell cannabis or cannabis products beginning January 1, 2018, must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for a seller’s permit. Cannabis cultivators, processors, manufacturers, retailers, microbusinesses and distributors who make sales are required to obtain and maintain a seller’s permit as a prerequisite for applying for a license with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, or the Department of Public Health. It is easy and convenient to register online with the CDTFA. Individuals who already have a seller’s permit (including a permit previously issued by the Board of Equalization) do not need to register for a new one.

In addition, distributors of cannabis and cannabis products must also register with the CDTFA for a cannabis tax permit – which is separate from a seller’s permit – in order to report and pay the two new cannabis taxes to the CDTFA starting in January 2018. Registration for the cannabis tax permit will be available on November 20, 2017.

Beginning January 1, 2018, two new cannabis taxes will be in effect. A 15 percent excise tax is imposed on purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Retailers are required to collect the excise tax from the purchaser and pay it to the cannabis distributor. A tax on the cultivation of cannabis that enters the commercial market is imposed on cultivators, who are required to pay the cultivation tax to either a distributor or manufacturer depending upon the nature of the transaction. The cultivation tax rates are $9.25 per dry weight ounce of cannabis flowers, and $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis leaves.

Individuals who operate a cannabis business that does not make taxable sales will need to obtain a certification letter from the CDTFA indicating that their business does not require a seller’s permit. The certification letter will be available through the CDTFA online registration system beginning November 20, 2017. Individuals may also sign up for CDTFA Cannabis ListServ notifications for the latest information on how to comply with the new laws related to cannabis businesses.

More information about the permits necessary to collect these new taxes is available in this special notice and in the Tax Guide for Cannabis Businesses.

 

Source: CDTFA

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Will Taxpayers Stand a Chance Against New Bureaucracy?

By George Runner, BOE  |  2017-11-03

George Runner, BOE

In September, two Inland Empire small business owners exposed sloppy work by a state auditor during two tax appeals that were heard before the State Board of Equalization. In doing so, the business owners scored unlikely victories against powerful state government.

As an elected member of the board who heard the case, my job isn’t to protect the state from itself. My job is to provide agency oversight and apply tax laws fairly and equally. If the state is at fault, taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook. It’s that simple.

The improbable victories, however, raise an important question: Will ordinary taxpayers stand a chance against the new and powerful Office of Tax Appeals beginning January 1?

In the first case, a state auditor lost sensitive taxpayer information, causing the taxpayer to go through the tedious work of changing all her accounts since her driver’s license, social security number, bank account numbers and other sensitive information were included in the missing paperwork.

The state never found her records, but that didn’t stop auditors from “guesstimating” she owed more taxes.

In the other case, the auditor visited an Upland restaurant owner. The auditor made careless errors and used unfounded assumptions to justify a much higher tax bill than was warranted.

After hearing testimony, Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the two taxpayers, relieving them of thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties and interest the state claimed they owed. After a long and lengthy appeals process, the two taxpayers prevailed, and in the process, helped expose some serious problems.

With these cases in mind, we all should be aware not every taxpayer has resources to fight the state, even when it’s clearly wrong. As matter of fact, the two businesses owners represented themselves before the board without attorneys. It’s easy to see why many worry the deck is stacked against the little guy. After all, the state has a horde of auditors, collectors and lawyers on payroll—all at taxpayer expense.

When taxpayers prevail, it gives hope. It signals that maybe, just maybe, there are checks and balances that correct injustice. But, why didn’t supervisors and managers catch these problems during the appeals process? And what will happen next year when state workers, rather than elected officials, start hearing tax appeals?

Earlier this month, the Legislature and governor hurriedly enacted faulty legislation creating positions for state employees who will be paid annual salaries of up to $143K to hear tax appeals. It’s an open question whether these new panels will be fair to taxpayers.

Concerns are already growing that there could be conflicts of interest.

In fact, nothing in the new law prevents the state from filling positions with its own tax agency attorneys.

My Democratic colleague Fiona Ma is so concerned about this possibility that she sent a letter to the governor warning:

“If we were to allow these same biased attorneys to serve as Administrative Law Judges on this new panel, I believe we would be doing a grave injustice to taxpayers and be setting the reform effort up for failure.”

She’s right. It would be incredibly naïve to think unelected bureaucrats won’t be pressured into ruling against taxpayers to protect state coffers. If that were to happen—and it will—it would add additional stigma to an already misguided reform effort that stripped taxpayers of their rights.

George Runner is an elected member of the State Board of Equalization.

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E&E Legal Forced to Sue for Failure to Records Shared with Activists Involving Their Inappropriate Lobbying Practices


Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) has filed suit under California's Public Records Act (PRA) against the state's Attorney General Xavier Becerraa for withholding all but one email showing or mentioning its work with partisan and environmentalist activists to use law enforcement in going after opponents of the "climate" political agenda".  Under Kamala Harris, California's OAG had participated in the since-collapsed "Climate-RICO" cabal organized by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, but kept its involvement off-screen.  The new AG, Becerra, has since suggested that he has indeed been working with activists, correspondence to, from or discussing which E&E Legal sought in its PRA request.

Specifically, in July, E&E Legal requested records "concerning the Office of Attorney General’s work with private outside parties to pursue, as targets of investigation, perceived opponents of a political and policy agenda shared by the Attorney General and these outside parties."  The complaint specifies the public records sought, in the form of correspondence that was sent to, or received from, the Attorney General, or members of his Executive Office, and certain named parties or entities of interest because of their involvement in the AG Climate RICO scandal beginning roughly six-months prior to the request:
 
"[C]opies of any email correspondence dated between February 1, 2017 and the date you process this request, a) which correspondence was sent from or to (including also as cc: or bcc:) Attorney General Becerra at any address, or members of the Executive Unit of the Attorney General’s Office (including also as cc: or bcc:) and b) which correspondence is also to or from (including also as cc: or bcc:), or which uses or mentions, any of the following individuals, entities, or email domains:

  1. Richard Graves
  2. Matthew Palevsky
  3. Tom Matzzie
  4. Ethical Electric
  5. Brian Arbogast
  6. Lee Wasserman
  7. RL Miller
  8. Stephen Heintz
  9. Erin Suhr (an employee of Fahr LLC)
  10. Pawa (including but not limited to mentioning in, e.g., mp@pawalaw.com)
  11. Frumhoff (including but not limited to mentioning in, e.g., PFrumhoff@ucsusa.org)
  12.  Any email address that includes @fahrllc.com

The OAG initially delayed its response, and then produced only a single document with little relevance to what E&E Legal sought.  OAG withheld all other potentially responsive records claiming the records were 'privileged.'  On the basis of E&E Legal's experience with other "Climate-RICO" AGs, as well as information and belief, E&E asserts this is likely baseless given the request encompasses documents shared with outside parties, and work with private, third-party political activists. No such privileges should apply to these records, unless AG Becerra will claim, as has NY's Schneiderman however implausibly, that he has 'deputized' partisan activists, donors and environmental pressure groups.

"As a California citizen and independent journalist, I have seen this act many times with the state government and their chosen third-party groups," said investigative journalist Katy Grimes, an E&E Legal Senior Media fellow and co-petitioner on the suit.  "We ask the Court to confirm that the blindfold on Lady Justice reflects how our laws are to be applied equally to all citizens and groups, and not a tool for lobbying by those that elected officials deem sufficiently politically-correct."

In addition to California, E&E Legal is embroiled in similar lawsuits in New York and Vermont, home of the two co-ringleaders of the AG Climate-RICO scheme.  The effort entailed a gathering of nearly twenty state-attorneys general, who were joined at their public announcement by climate "investor" Al Gore, vowing to use every legal tool at their disposal to shut down dissent on the 'climate change' issue and to seek a tobacco-style global settlement from ExxonMobil and other fossil-fuel companies.  E&E Legal's public record requests and subsequent litigation in Vermont and New York, and other states, exposed this scandal, leading to most of the attorneys general to flee from the climate crusade.

"Once again we find ourselves having to litigate a routine public records request with a state's attorney general," said E&E Legal President Craig Richardson.  "Apparently when these attorney generals are required to follow the same laws they are elected to enforce, they hide behind legal smokescreens and stonewalls."

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today commemorated California Flood Preparedness Week by encouraging residents to prepare for flood season.

“Extreme weather and natural disasters are a way of life in California,” stated Jon Ericson, acting chief of the state’s Division of Flood Management. “Taking the right steps now can mean all the difference to you and your family if flooding occurs.”

More than 7 million California residents are at risk of flooding, and many don’t realize it. Flooding happens throughout the state, from rural communities to urban areas, at the base of hills and along the coast. In fact, every California County has received a flood-related emergency declaration in the past twenty years.

This year many communities are at an extra risk for flooding because of wildfire damage. Flooding after wildfire is often more severe, as debris and ash left from the fire can form mudflows. These mudflows can cause considerable damage that is not covered by homeowner’s insurance, however if the mudflows are related to flooding then NFIP flood insurance may cover the damage. Please check with your insurance provider for details.

Be Flood Ready by following these steps: Talk to your insurance agent about buying flood insurance, or contact the National Flood Insurance Program for information. 1-800-427-4661; Make an evacuation kit. Tips are available at: www.redcross.org/ ; Make an evacuation plan. Familiar routes may not be accessible during a flood; Stay informed during heavy storms; Don’t walk or drive through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

More information is available at: https://www.ready.gov/floods

DWR also cautions the public not to wait if they are told to evacuate, as first responders may not be able to reach residents later.

The state, through DWR’s Emergency Rehabilitation Program, is coordinating with local, state and federal agencies to support repair and rehabilitation work on project levees damaged during the 2017 storm season. The state has committed $80 million to repair 30 critical sites this year, prepare designs for 10 more future sites, and jointly prepare contingency plans for 100 additional sites in preparation for this year’s rainy season.

Source: DWR

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FBI Announces Results of Operation Cross Country XI

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced October 18th, that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from October 12-15, 2017.  

Within the FBI Sacramento field office’s 34-county area of responsibility, the FBI and its law enforcement partners conducted operations in the four metropolitan areas: Chico, Fresno, Sacramento, and South Lake Tahoe. Local recoveries of minors and pimping arrests during Operation Cross Country are as follows:

  • Thursday, October 12, 2017
    Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department recovered one minor
  • Friday, October 13, 2017
    FBI and Chico Police Department recovered one minor    
  • Saturday, October 14, 2017
    Porterville Police Department arrested an adult male on felony pimping charges.

In addition to successful recovery of two minors and the arrest of a pimp, more than 23 arrests were made for a variety of charges including prostitution and probation violations. The following agencies participated in Operation Cross Country XI. Butte County District Attorney’s Office, El Dorado District Attorney’s Office, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, Fresno Police Department, Hanford Police Department, Placer County Sheriff’s Department, Porterville Police Department, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, Sacramento County Probation Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento Police Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines. 

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm.  Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services. 

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.

Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:

On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.

Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.   

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